The Ska Vengers: 'The worst that could happen? We could get lynched'

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India’s first ska band talk about how they got together – and how their radical lyrics have led the secret police to spy on their gigs

Six years ago a Croydon-born, New Delhi-based keyboard player called Stefan Kaye corralled some local musicians to form a new band. They were, by all accounts, faintly nonplussed by his proposal. “I just never thought it would be possible,” shrugs vocalist Taru Dalmia. “I said to him,” – his voice takes on a slightly incredulous tone – “‘if you can find enough musicians to do this, it’ll be amazing’.”

In Europe or the US, Kaye’s idea wouldn’t have been particularly radical: in the 39 years since the Coventry Automatics changed their name to The Specials and their sound to ska, umpteen bands have opted to play a punk-infused take on the prevalent sound of 1960s Jamaica. In India, however, the formation of the Ska Vengers seems to have been an unprecedented musical event: the scene in New Delhi encompasses everything from hip-hop to heavy metal, but no one seems to have thought of forming a ska band before. “I love ska, I love the ethos of the musicians who played it first, like the Skatalites, but would I ever play in a ska band?” says guitarist Chaitanya Bhalla. “I didn’t think so.”

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Music | The Guardian

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